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The city of Ferris, like so many other cities, is fighting the rise in COVID numbers and our local hospitals, local physicians, City operations, and educational institutions are being pushed to their limits. With our underserved population, we are especially vulnerable to the rise in cases. Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, we are launching an initiative in an effort to turn that tide.

With our COVID relief funds, we will be directing about $180,000.00 toward the initiative below. We were able to obtain this opportunity through relationships established prior to the pandemic and this is a great opportunity for both the city of Ferris and Ellis County. We are proud that Ferris is leading the way and putting our money where our mouth is on concern for our citizens and living one of core values of “people first.” This is an opportunity that is not being widely seen across the state of Texas and we are grateful to have this opportunity. This will be a “pop-up” monoclonal antibody therapy center that will treat area residents who have contracted COVID.

Those in the city of Ferris and or Ellis County will be able to receive the antibody therapy treatment free of charge at the center setup at the Scout House, 514 Mable St., Ferris. You do not have to have health insurance to receive treatment.

The therapy is for those with COVID who are within the first 10 days of showing symptoms. The specific name of the drug is Regeneron and a study was conducted that showed the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 70% if the patient takes the drug. Patients will be receiving therapy injection of the antibodies. Antibodies are what your immune system typically produces on its own in response to an illness you’ve had in the past. If your body recognizes the illness, it will produce antibodies to neutralize that bacteria or virus so that it cannot infect your cells. If you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID, your body is not producing the antibodies to attack the virus. If you’ve had the vaccine, you are producing some antibodies and this therapy treatment injects additional antibodies to assist in neutralizing the virus.

Multiple studies by Regeneron and other health systems showed significant success in terms of the effectiveness of the monoclonal antibody therapy. Those who receive the treatment, typically within 24-48 hours are nearly cleared of the virus. There are those who continue to develop symptoms and need to be admitted to the hospital, but it is reduced significantly by 70%.

Those interested in receiving the antibody therapy treatment can register for an appointment at mdlabtx.com and walk-ins are also welcomed/encouraged. No prescription is required. Although the treatment is open to everyone, Ellis County and city of Ferris residents will get priority if slots are limited.

This therapy center is being hosted by the city of Ferris and Ellis County. While the city and county continue to work with the state, this is very much a local effort brought about through the recommendations and support from city manager Brooks Williams and Ellis County Judge Todd Little. Ellis County Emergency Management and city of Ferris leadership will spearhead coordination of the effort with the MDLABTX team, local physicians, local hospitals, and the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

The idea for a therapy center came about as a response to the rising number of active COVID cases in the county brought about by the delta variant, which were beginning to overwhelm local hospitals. Another factor was the fact that there are only five state-funded therapy treatment sites, the closest to Ferris being a site in Fort Worth.

The desire was to figure out a way we could continue to care well for our community, reduce COVID in our community and properly treat those who do have COVID when we’re having a lack of availability in ICU beds. We looked at a lot of different options, but the option we felt was the most viable was monoclonal antibody therapy. One of our driving forces is to reduce exposure time between a positive parent and kids that will end up in FISD classrooms and classrooms across Ellis County.

The antibody therapy treatment drug will be received through the state, and we will be requesting doses to administer at the pop-up therapy center this week. The center will operate daily and supply of the drug from the state will dictate the number of doses that are administered. Currently, the goal is to administer 60-80 each day. Currently, area hospitals in Ellis County can only administer about 30 doses daily. This site will instantly add significant capacity.

The city engaged local, state and federal leaders to assist in this effort and would like to thank: Ellis County Emergency Management, Ellis County Judge Todd Little, state Rep. Carl O. Sherman, Congressman Jake Ellzey, and state Sen. Bob Hall for their efforts and support.

Brooks Williams serves as city manager of Ferris.

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